A large number of residents in Newcastle have expressed their displeasure at plans by NUI Galway to build additional student residences in the area. The college recently applied for permission to build the accommodation in Upper Newcastle and the proposed development consists of a five-storey block fronted by three four-storey blocks, to house more than 450 students. The residences are to be located between the existing Corrib Village and homes on Upper Newcastle road.
Local residents have had several meetings about the planned development and in a letter to the Galway Advertiser, a group called Concerned Newcastle Residents outline their dissatisfaction with the plans. "Given its location and height, this enormous development is completely incongruous with the surrounding area. The existing Corrib Village already houses over 770 students, and has been the cause of extensive noise pollution and associated anti-social behaviour for many years now. Increasing the overall student density by 450 individuals would compound these problems.''
The group says that NUIG has a clear duty to the community in which it exists. "The sheer scale of this proposal demonstrates little or no empathy with local residents and their concerns. As residents of Upper Newcastle, we see NUIG's extensive new plans as a further erosion of what used to be a quiet residential neighborhood. Our area comprises a broad cross-section of individuals, many of whom have lived here for a long time - and will continue to do so for a long time to come. We strongly believe NUIG needs to take this more firmly into account in their development plans, and take significant steps to address the concerns and opposition of Newcastle residents to this plan.''
Local man, John Lee's 95-year-old mother lives in close proximity to the planned new apartment blocks. He too is unhappy about the effects of the project. "At the end of my mother's back garden, there will be three four storey blocks and a five storey block constructed in the first phase of this development. Subsequent phases will see similar blocks constructed which will stretch from the Westwood up to the Franciscans. We always expected a development of some sort in this area but we certainly did not expect anything close to the monstrosity that is being proposed.''
Mr Lee says his mother's quality of life will be severely affected by the development if planners give it the green light. "Having been a student myself, I can imagine the disruption that phase one will cause in terms of noise when it is complete. The orientation of the proposed blocks will cause a handball alley effect, to channel sound in to my mother's back garden and the gardens of adjoining residences. One of my mother's few pleasures in life is her garden, which she will no longer be able to enjoy in her final years."